Lake Oswego selects Jennifer Schiele as new superintendent
At the Monday, April 26, Lake Oswego School Board meeting, Superintendent Lora de la Cruz introduced what she said was her least favorite agenda item in almost two years in the district: a vote on accepting her resignation.
As expected, the board did vote to accept the resignation, which de la Cruz announced late last week. She will remain in her position until the end of June, at which point she will be replaced permanently by current Assistant Superintendent Jennifer Schiele.
De la Cruz arrived at the Lake Oswego School District in 2019. She replaced interim Superintendent Michael Musick, who served after Heather Beck departed in 2018. Musick chose not to apply for a permanent position.
Prior to accepting the Lake Oswego position, de la Cruz was an area superintendent and learning community director for the Aurora Public School District in Colorado.
De la Cruz cited the need to be closer to her family as her mother faces health issues.
"My mother spent her whole adult life sacrificing for me and I know in my heart that the right thing to do is for me to make a sacrifice to support her in a time that she has great needs," de la Cruz said at Monday's meeting.
It was a heartfelt goodbye as board members thanked de la Cruz for her leadership and wished her and her family well.
Board member John Wallin listed the challenges of the last two years, from elementary boundaries and the creation of a new strategic plan and, of course, the pandemic response.
"I'm so glad that we had these few years with you. I think no one else could've done it," he said. "Thank you for everything.You put in place a great plan for us to go forward and we will do our best to carry it out."
Board member Liz Hartman said de la Cruz was her top candidate for the role since the moment she read her resume.
"I really do believe the district has been fortunate to have her leadership," Hartman said.
Board member Neelam Gupta thanked de la Cruz for her commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.
"I am so grateful and honored to have had this opportunity to get to know you and to have served alongside you," she said.
The board then moved on to the plan for de la Cruz's succession and voted unanimously to offer Schiele the role of superintendent.
"Dr. Schiele has demonstrated exceptional leadership during her tenure in the district," board chair Sara Pocklington said in a news release Tuesday morning. "We are confident her invaluable depth of knowledge, stellar credentials and trusted relationships will provide our learning community with the necessary continuity and healing to weather the remainder of the pandemic and come out of it stronger together."
Gupta recalled Schiele's deep roots in the district. She joined the district in 2003 as a counselor and along her way to her current role she also worked as an assistant principal and principal. "We need that stability, someone who has deep knowledge in the district," Gupta said.
Lakeridge Middle School counselor Marcy Watts first met Schiele when Schiele was a counselor at LMS in 2003. Watts was a teacher at the time.
"I was blown away by the quality of counselor that she was at that time," Watts said.
Watts said she watched Schiele rise through the ranks. Even as a principal, Watts said, Schiele would take on any task — nothing was below her.
"She would do anything to make life better for teachers and students," Watts said.
Watts said she's sad to see de la Cruz go, but she's relieved to know Schiele will be taking her place.
"She knows our community and she knows how to support the students, families and staff," Watts said. "She has worked her way up. It's just so well-deserved."
Schiele accepted the offer, pending final contract negotiations.
"This is an amazing opportunity and I'm so excited to be part of this team," Schiele said. She thanked de la Cruz for her leadership, mentorship and friendship.
"It's hard to say goodbye to her but I would do the exact same thing in her position," Schiele said.
She also thanked the board for its confidence in her.
"My team will continue to work towards our strategic plan," she said.
Between now and the end of the school year, Schiele and de la Cruz will continue to work closely together as the district transitions between leaders.
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